The benefits of volunteering are endless. Not only do volunteers get to help a worthy cause, but they also connect with like-minded people, combat stress and build skills that can help them in their careers. If you want to volunteer your time but aren’t sure where to start, read on to learn about two local organizations that welcome the help of students.
Story and photos by Isaura Aceves
Volunteers are the backbone of the no-kill animal shelter in Seal Beach. Learn how you can contribute to the care for the animals needs of a home.
The Seal Beach Animal Care Center has a quiet, peaceful air to it. When you approach the cluster of small houses, it is easy to forget that it is a center that serves as a home for hundreds of animals. What especially stands out about the shelter is the no-kill policy that’s been in place since 1988 and the commitment to keeping their animals as comfortable as possible until the animals find their special homes.
Walking into the cat building is like walking into a home. Groups of cats lounge near the open sun in the lazy afternoon. The dogs spend their days in playpens sleeping and playing with one another. The shelter took in approximately 301 dogs and 305 cats in 2017, with adoption rates of 93 percent for dogs and 88 percent for cats.
What truly makes this shelter a success is the commitment of the volunteers. Since its opening, volunteers have been the backbone of the shelter. There are many ways the volunteers contribute: dog walking, playing with kittens, office work, dog grooming, the kitten foster program, community outreach, laundry and fundraising.
Christina Miller has been a volunteer for the past four years at the shelter. As the fundraising coordinator for the shelter, she is focused on gathering donations and organizing fundraising events for the shelter.
“I think I get more from the animals than they do from me,” Miller says. ”I adopted Patrick, my little baby, from the shelter, and he's just been a wonderful. He's a family member now.”
After retiring, Miller started volunteering to walk smaller dogs. Most of the volunteers are needed to walk dogs and play with the animals to provide them loving attention while they wait for their adoptions.
Miller believes that the volunteers are the lifeblood of the shelter. They provide the essential everyday duties unpaid while having the opportunity to play and relax with the animals. The center’s flexibility allows a variety of people from the community to volunteer.
“We’re different from other shelters in that you don't have to sign up with one day or one hour,” Miller says. “You can go according [to] your schedule, which is good for students.”
Spending an afternoon with their cats and dogs is enough to make you understand how special this center is. They have the sweetest animals that deserve all the attention in the world.
How to get involved: To volunteer at the shelter, you must be 18 or older and pre-register on their website. After you have completed your registration, visit the center in person to sign up for a dog orientation, or sign up online or over the phone for a cat orientation. If you want to volunteer in another capacity, the center is also looking for people to help create videos and take photos.
A Worthy Mission
Story and photos by Steve Zavala
Long Beach is home to many organizations that are looking to have a long-lasting impact on the community, but one mission is changing lives one person at a time.
For decades, the Long Beach Rescue Mission has sought to bring positive change for thousands in local communities.
The nonprofit organization has provided food, clothing, shelter, personal assistance and much more to the homeless and needy since 1972. The mission also offers worship services within its chapel.
The Long Beach Rescue Mission directly works with people in dire need of help by providing emergency services for temporary housing and daily meals for the homeless and impoverished. The mission’s Samaritan House provides shelter and essentials for men, and its Lydia House assists women and children. Both of these emergency shelters prioritize in food services, which has been a top priority for the mission.
“Just last year, we provided well over 300,000 meals,” says Ted Hicks, volunteer coordinator for the mission.
Through its learning centers and programs, the Long Beach Rescue Mission provides opportunities to build skill sets and knowledge for those looking for a source of employment as a way to provide them with a path to recovery.
The mission also holds opportunities for those interested in volunteering with the organization or looking to assist the homeless. Whether you are looking to donate to food services, mentor or directly work with the homeless in the shelter, the Long Beach Rescue Mission has a variety of volunteering options for anyone looking to lend a helping hand to those in need.
The mission is always looking for volunteers who are motivated and passionate about helping struggling members of the Long Beach community. People can get involved by helping out at the shelters and at cleanups, in the garden and at the mission’s thrift store, Hicks says.
Along with volunteer options, the mission is also seeking contributions via donations. Whether it is donating clothing, furniture or household items to the thrift store or other essentials to their two emergency shelters, the mission is always seeking items — in particular, food and hygiene items like toothpaste and deodorant — that will assist in in their goal of changing the lives of the homeless in the area.
How to get involved: If you are interested in volunteering at the Long Beach Rescue Mission or looking to donate, you can sign up by visiting lbrm.org/volunteer. You can then attend a volunteer orientation, which are held at the second Saturday every month from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.